If you want a surefire home run on your Easter spread, look no further than this cheesy, comforting gratin.
No matter how much advance planning I've done or how many dishes I designate to guests, hosting for any holiday is still downright stressful. I worry about the stain on the couch, whether the wine will be chilled in time, and how to keep the dog from barking every time the doorbell rings. But if there's one thing that can instantly make me more relaxed, it's being confident in the food I'm serving to my friends.
Making just one dish that I know everyone will love is enough to make me take a sigh of relief—and I bet the same holds true for you, too. That's why I've mastered the art of the gratin: take any vegetable, make a basic bechamel sauce, cover the whole thing with breadcrumbs, and bake until warmed through. Once you know the formula, you can cater the dish to your own personal preferences or those of your guests. My two favorites are asparagus and, most recently, brussels sprouts—but potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, and broccoli are all delicious contenders, too.
This Bacon Brussels Sprouts Gratin is creamy, cheesy, and utterly comforting, with a crispy breadcrumb topping and crunchy bacon bits scattered throughout. Here's how to make it:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Trim and halve 2 pounds of brussels sprouts. Divide between a 9x13" baking dish and a rimmed baking sheet. Toss each batch with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds black pepper. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepot over medium-low. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and a pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups whole milk. Increase heat to medium, and simmer, whisking often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Slowly add 6 oz. grated cheese (such as Gruyère and white cheddar), ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds black pepper. Whisk until cheese is melted and remove from heat.
3. Transfer brussels sprouts on baking sheet to baking dish. Pour cheese sauce evenly over brussels and toss until evenly coated. Stir in 4 oz. chopped cooked bacon. Wipe out the saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, stir in 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon salt. Scatter over brussels.
4. Bake until warmed through, 10 to 12 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil; broil until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
RELATED: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Kale With Crispy Capers
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